Fired CTA worker pleads not guilty to murder in homeless man’s death

Police found Kevin Powell unresponsive on the platform of the La Salle Street Blue Line subway stop in March.

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A CTA Blue Line train at an underground station in the Loop.

A transit worker is accused of killing a homeless man on the platform of the LaSalle Street station on the CTA Blue Line.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

A former Chicago Transit Authority worker has pleaded not guilty to murder and aggravated battery charges in the beating death of a homeless man earlier this year on a subway platform.

Emmett Richardson, 39, was initially charged with aggravated battery in the case after police responded March 25 at the La Salle Street Blue Line stop at 150 W. Congress Parkway and found Kevin Powell unresponsive on the station’s platform.

Video surveillance later revealed Richardson had repeatedly attacked Powell that morning, including dragging Powell by his hood to the top of a large stairwell and then flipping him down the stairs, feet-over-head “like so much garbage,” Assistant State’s Attorney Lorraine Scaduto said at Richardson’s bond hearing later that month.

Powell, 54, didn’t provoke the attacks or even try to defend himself, prosecutors said. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Emmett Richardson arrest photo

Emmett Richardson

Chicago police

A grand jury re-indicted Richardson this month, adding murder charges, and he pleaded not guilty to all counts at a June 8 hearing, according to court records.

At the time Richardson was first charged, a ruling on Powell’s cause and manner of death was pending the results of an autopsy. In May, the Cook County medical examiner’s office ruled Powell’s death a homicide, but listed his primary cause of death as an overdose with stress from the attack as a secondary cause.

Richardson’s bail was initially set at $3 million by Judge Barbara Dawkins, who said Richardsons alleged conduct “shocks the conscience.”

Court records show his bail was later reduced to $100,000 during a May hearing before Judge Carol Howard, and he was released after posting $10,000 bond.

Richardson is expected back in court July 13.

A spokesman for the CTA said Richardson was suspended without pay after the incident and fired on March 29 “for violating several workforce rules.”

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